The Best Guided Sleep Meditations to Help You Fall Asleep & Wake Up Refreshed

UPDATED: August 17, 2023
PUBLISHED: July 31, 2023
woman listening to guided sleep meditation in bed

You need a good night’s sleep to function properly. But too often, our minds race at bedtime and our bodies remain tense. Choosing the best time to sleep can help you wake up feeling refreshed and optimize your daily habits. Still, battling a restless mind and insomnia isn’t easy. Guided sleep meditations provide a solution to help you fall asleep faster and wake up refreshed.

What is sleep meditation?

Mindful meditation is important for greater health and well-being. It helps us improve our mood, ease anxiety and can even enhance brain function. But whatever length of meditation is best for you, your goal is usually to come out feeling more mindful and clear-headed in a short period of time. In fact, you probably sit upright during meditation to prevent yourself from falling to sleep.

Guided sleep meditation differs in that it helps you relax in a reclined position. Your goal is to fall asleep faster and remain tranquil until morning. Sleep meditation combines elements of traditional meditation—such as mindfulness and focused breathing—with soothing, verbal guidance. Calm voices, natural sounds, gentle music and other tools work in tandem to guide you to sleep and keep you in a state of rest throughout the night.

Benefits of guided sleep meditation include:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Decreased likelihood of insomnia or waking through the night
  • Less time falling asleep and enhanced sleep quality
  • Better focus and concentration
  • Improved emotional well-being

How do I meditate to sleep?

Guided sleep meditations aren’t all the same. Varying options and styles allow you to experiment and find the best fit to help you rest more easily. But the core principles of most sleep meditations are the same and include the following steps:

  1. Finding a comfortable position, usually in a bed and on your back
  2. Focused breathing, inhaling deeply and slowly
  3. Progressively relaxing your muscle groups, starting at your feet and up to your head
  4. Visualizing peaceful and serene settings to further calm your active mind

Guided meditations walk you through these sleep stages at bedtime. They also provide visualization exercises, sleep-inducing stories, natural sounds and low-volume music.

What are the best guided sleep meditations to try?

With that in mind, let’s look at some of our favorite guided sleep meditation audio tracks. We’ve chosen from a variety of sleep meditation styles so you can explore and find the type of meditation that helps you sleep best.

1. Deep Sleep Guided Meditation

All-purpose sleep meditations walk you through all the important steps to guide you to sleep. With a gentle, calming voice, your guide leads you, from the moment you lie down, through breathing, relaxation and visualization exercises. Soothing ambient music further enhances the experience.

Length: 1 hour

Where to find: InsightTimer

Cost: Free sample; full meditation app subscription is $60 per year at the App Store and Google Play

2. Guided Deep Sleep Hypnosis

Using techniques inspired by hypnosis, guided deep sleep hypnosis helps you achieve a deep state of relaxation to fall asleep more easily. In this meditation track, Jason Stephenson helps you to relax your muscles and provides calming visualizations with a soothing soundtrack to address insomnia and restlessness.

Length: 3 hours

Where to find: YouTube

Cost: Free

3. Body Scan & Progressive Relaxation

If you go to bed feeling wound up, tense or even sore, guided muscle relaxation may be the best fit for you. By focusing on each muscle group in turn, Michael Sealey’s free body scan meditation provides the self-care you need to wake up feeling refreshed, more resilient and ready for tomorrow.

Length: 1 hour

Where to find: YouTube

Cost: Free

4. Guided Sleep Meditation Through Nature

Does nature calm you the way it does me? We’ve talked before about the value of nature as part of your self-care routine. Guided sleep meditations can likewise walk you through nature as part of a calming habit. This track from Jason Stephenson provides the sounds of a gentle forest while guiding you to deeper relaxation.

Length: 53 minutes

Where to find: Spotify

Cost: Free with Spotify account

5. ASMR for Deep Relaxation

As a child, did you rest easier to the sounds of a parent doing ordinary things? Perhaps whispering while you slept? You felt safe. ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. That is, the tingly feeling some get from whispered voices and gentle sounds. With 100 ASMR triggers, this track will help you rest easier with a sense of safety and comfort.

Length: 4 hours

Where to find: YouTube

Cost: Free

6. Gratitude Meditations to Sleep Peacefully

In our waking lives, gratitude improves our health. We offset negativity and deepen our understanding of relationships with simple gratitude. Thankful meditations likewise impact our health and mental state as we drift off to sleep. To lessen your worries, breathe deeply and sleep through the night with gratitude as your doorway to slumber, don’t miss this excellent guided sleep meditation from Dauchsy.

Length: 3 hours

Where to find: YouTube

Cost: Free

7. Sleep Stories for Calm

Many of us have had family members or others read bedtime stories to us. We drifted to sleep in comfort. Along with other guided meditations, the Calm app features bedtime stories for adults. These blur the line between stories and meditations with emphasis on relaxation and strong, descriptive visualizations rather than tension or “page turning” plotlines.

Length: 24 minutes

Where to find: Youtube

Cost: Free sample; full meditation app subscription: $69.99 per year at the App Store and Google Play

8. Decrease Mental Chatter with Headspace

Ever wake up in the middle of the night and start thinking too much? This track from Headspace provides an ideal solution. In a quiet, soothing voice, the guided sleep meditation walks you through steps to breathe more slowly, calming your body while washing away the chatter in your mind.

Length: 10 minutes

Where to find: YouTube

Cost: Free sample; full meditation app subscription: $69.99 at the App Store and Google Play

Photo by Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

Bryan Lindenberger

Bryan enjoys the digital space where arts and technology meet. As a writer, he has worked in education, health and wellbeing, and manufacturing. He also assists smaller businesses in web development including accessibility and content development. In his free time, he hikes trails in central Florida.